Two of my friends asked me this week about making sourkraut, so when I made my last batch of the year yesterday I decided to take pictures of the process for them. So, if you’re not interested in how to make sourkraut (thank you, Mom, for teaching me how!) then skip this one–although Grandma and aunts might want to look at the last picture!
Start by weighing out 5 pounds of cabbage and cutting the head into wedges.
Shred the cabbage. I use this hand-cranked gadget, but I’ve seen kraut-cutters occasionally. They must have been more common a hundred years ago–just a series of blades in a frame that you would push the cabbage back and forth over.
After all five pounds of cabbage are fairly finely shredded, sprinkle on 3 1/2 Tablespoons (2.5 ounces) of non-iodized salt.
Mix the salt through the cabbage.
If you don’t have a shredder of some sort, a large knife works, too–just takes a little longer. Cut your wedge of cabbage into several thin slices, then chop this way.
Five pounds of cabbage equals five pints of kraut. (A pint a pound the world around, you know!) I was making fifteen pounds yesterday, so the first two batches went into these five quart (liter) jars.
This first five pounds only half filled the jars, so at first it was pretty loose. It’s a good idea to put the jars in the mixing bowl to fill them, to save mess.
The second five pounds is going in the jars–now I have to pack it in. Press it down as tightly as possible. Yes, it will all fit in.
As you continue to pack the kraut in, the salt pulls water out of the cabbage, and you end up with a lot of liquid–good reason to do this in the bowl! I failed to do that with this batch, and ended up with a wet table.
For my last five pounds yesterday, I used odd-sized jars, so to find the right combination I got 10 cups of water and poured it into the jars till it exactly fit. Then I knew I had enough room for five pints of kraut.
Yes, all that cabbage fit in those five jars!
Sorry, no picture of the end of the process–this is why! He woke up five minutes before I finished and thought the world was coming to an end because he had to wait for Mommy! I cut squares of plastic from bags I bought frozen vegetables or sugar in, and put those right on top of the kraut, to help keep out the air and protect the lids, then put on the lids. The five biggest jars, of course, take preserving jar lids and rings, and the smaller jars have their own lids. Grease the inside of the preserving jar rings so they’ll be easier to take off. The juices ooze out as the cabbage ferments, and salt water is corrosive. Mom always uses the rustiest rings she has, so as not to ruin her good ones. Mine are all pretty nice, so I just use what comes to hand. Be sure to set them on a surface that will not be hurt by the salt water, and it’s a good idea to have a way to catch it! You’ll have a fair amount coming out of the jars. Keep them in a cool, dark place. DO NOT OPEN FOR SIX WEEKS! It takes that long for the kraut to totally ferment. Refrigerate after opening. Air makes it spoil.